SOUTH AFRICA will push for Super Rugby to be expanded to 16 teams.
It comes after the announcement last week that the Southern Kings – a Port Elizabeth-based franchise – would come into the competition next year.
Currently, all three countries have five teams playing in the conference-style championship.
Under that arrangement, one of the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers, Lions or Cheetahs would have to be axed to allow the Kings to take part.
There are fears of a backlash if one of those sides is cut, hence the desire to push for an expanded competition.
“We've got the five franchises looking at the model, but first prize, we are still lobbying our partners, we want to get a sixth franchise in. We believe it will be good for rugby and we don't want to see anybody go down,” South African Rugby deputy president Mark Alexander told Supersport.com.
“The last thing we want to do is to make a choice to push one of the franchises out.
“We understand if one drops out it is very difficult to come back and compete again the following year, it makes it almost impossible.”
Under SARU’s proposal, the competition would be 18 weeks long.
It would revert back to its round-robin format, with each team playing 15 matches.
The playoff series would be trimmed from six to four teams to reduce the need to expand the season.
Timing will be an issue, with the Super Rugby broadcasting deal which covers the 15 teams set to be renegotiated in 2016.
“There is a window of opportunity with our partners, we are currently preparing a 16-team schedule so that we can go and debate with them,” says Alexander.
“I think our relationship with SANZAR has improved tremendously, we are very close to our partners in Australia and we work very closely with New Zealand and our relationship has changed.
“I think there is a window of opportunity provided we sell a workable solution about 16 franchises playing in the competition.”« Back to Archives
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